Saint Nicolas Tolentino (San Nicolás de Tolentino), Actopan, Hidalgo, 16th Century
Fray Andrés de Mata began construction on the monastery of San Nicolás of Tolentino in 1550. Similar in plan to other Augustinian missions, San Nicolás is known for its colossal monumentality. The open chapel is a barrel vault that measures 57 feet in width - larger than all but one of the vaults of Europe at the time. Local artists painted the interior with scenes patterned on Medieval prints depicting the Old Testament and the Last Judgment.
Garitas (ornamental sentry boxes) crown the buttresses along the battlemented roof line of the church. The facade combines both Medieval and Renaissance elements, and the bell tower has a distinctly Moorish flavor.
The adjoining cloister is Gothic with pointed arches and ribbed vaults on the ground level. Renaissance frescoes of Augustinian saints line the enormous staircase that leads to the upper cloister. Based on European woodcuts, the paintings are mostly black and white with occasional accents of color.